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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Virtual Wedding Bells

Author: By: Bryan Hanley, DTL, Medical Branch Director, Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT CA-9) deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, National Disaster Medical System, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 3/19/2020 7:36:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery;

Disaster Medical Assistance Team Helps Unite Father under Quarantine with his Daughter on her Wedding Day

At quarantine sites across the country, some passengers from the Grand Princess are missing important milestones as they wait out their quarantine, but responders from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) are committed to making things a little bit easier for them. Earlier this month, NDMS responders helped a dad who was not able to be physically present virtually walk his daughter down the aisle while he was in quarantine. 

Joel Young attends wedding virtually

Joel Young, a resident of the Phoenix, AZ area and a guest in quarantine at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was able to participate in the wedding ceremony of his daughter even though he was over 1000 miles away.   Joel coordinated with a company to provide a robot controlled by a tablet device to enable him to attend the wedding remotely.  

“They called it Daddy-Bot," Joel said as he described his proxy during the ceremony.  As the video broadcast went live, wedding guests walked in front of the camera to wave, say hi and to let Joel know he was missed.  

NDMS responder Sarah Caven first met Joel as she and more than a hundred medical and non-medical personnel from NDMS and the U.S. Public Health Service welcomed over 480 guests from the cruise ship that docked in Northern California to the quarantine site at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.  As part of the required quarantine to protect the American public from the further spread of the COVID-19, guests were moved to housing on the base and provided services to meet their needs.  

Sarah heard that Joel was trying to join his daughter’s wedding, but was a few pieces of equipment short of a solution and she really wanted to help this dad virtually walk his daughter down the aisle.  So she let him borrow her personal iPad and got him an HDMI cable for his TV so he could control and watch the robot acting as his stand-in. 

Joel had a hard time being so far away from his family and coping with the isolation of quarantine, but he was really touched by the support he received from NDMS responders, including Sarah. “Having you guys with me during the ceremony was so nice. I was a contractor on the cruise ship and traveling alone. I was then restricted to my interior stateroom and then placed in a room alone here.  It has been so lonely,” said Joel.

Three responders in PPE with sparkling cider

A few DMAT staff were able to attend the wedding as Joel’s plus one.  Joel had the yellow-gowned staff in personal protective equipment (PPE) poke their heads into the camera frame to wave.  The wedding guests were pleased to see Joel as he wept in joy seeing the beautiful bride in her dress joined in matrimony. “He is a very nice guy and perfect fit for my daughter,” said Joel.  “I am so proud of the couple they will become.”  

Coping with quarantine is hard for many passengers, but the dedicated professionals from NDMS are working to make it easier for the people they are helping at quarantine locations across the country. 

In communities across the country, community spaces are closing and many people are practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, which can be very stressful.  If you are finding it difficult to practice social distancing, check out these tips on coping from SAMHSA’s fact sheet, Taking Care of Behavioral Health: Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation during an Infectious Disease Outbreak.



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